Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Roasted Banana Smores

Last weekend we spent a wonderful week camping in eastern Oregon. We had a lot of great food, but one of the best things we had while we were out there were these Roasted Banana Smores. It has become my favorite version of Smores, and it probably stems from my love of banana and chocolate together! They are very easy and we actually did them on the grill and not over a campfire, so this is something that doesn't even need to be saved for a camping trip! (although there are some things that just taste better when you've been in the woods all day)
Just as with any other recipe, your end result will only be as good as your beginning ingredients, so get some good chocolate and graham crackers (these were cinnamon graham crackers and we used a 70% dark chocolate bar) and while homemade marshmallows are best, store bought ones work well too...

Make sure your grill is nice and hot (works well if it was already going for some BBQ dinner.) Start with a square of foil. Take a banana and just trimming off the very tips of the banana, leaving the peel on, slice all the way down the middle and slightly open up the banana and also push down so you have a fairly wide, flat, exposed surface of the banana and put this on the foil and then bring the edges of the foil up, so it creates a little barrier all the way around the banana. Put the banana on the grill for maybe 5 minutes or so, (it will depend on how hot it is)just to start roasting the banana. You'll know it's done when the banana is warmed all the way through and you may even see a few juices bubbling underneath. At that point put a row of chocolate pieces (around 1" x 1/2" rectangles) down the center of the banana, cover with a row of marshmallows (about 2 1/2 larger marshmallows- cut them in half so they lay flat) and then cover the grill and let it cook for another 5 minutes or so until the chocolate and marshmallows are melted. At this point you should see more juices bubbling underneath and the banana will be pretty soft. Transfer the banana from the foil to a plate, leaving the skin on* and then top with crumbled up graham crackers!

*this picture doesn't show the skin of the banana, but on the second round I did end up cooking the banana longer and it was easier to just serve in the skin and eat around it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Crispy Oat Bites

These cookies began with a recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini with a few extra additions... These are great little cookies to snack on, they aren't too sweet and are full of flavor and crunch. They are quick and easy to make at the last minute and can be as simple as just the plain cookie or dressed up by sandwiching with melted chocolate. You could also change out any of the "add in's" for whatever you have around or feel inspired by.

Crispy Oat Bites (Makes about 40 quarter sized cookies)

1/4 cup (50 g) melted butter
1/4 cup (50 g) brown sugar (could also use unrefined sugar like rapadura)
2 tsp honey (or agave syrup)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup (45 g) rolled oats (or any other rolled grain)
1/2 cup (60 g) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbs milk
1/4 cup (20 g) toasted sliced/chopped almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup finely chopped cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 350
Melt the butter in a sauce pan, and then mix in the sugars and vanilla. Mix the flour with the baking powder, salt and oats and mix into the butter mix. Add the milk, after everything is mixed, add the rest of the add ins and mix until everything is evenly distributed. Use a teaspoon to scoop out little balls of the dough and put onto a greased sheet pan (or lined with parchment) and flatten out into round disks. Bake until golden approximately 12 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Upside Down Cobbler

Sorry for the long absence! Summer and outdoor activities have seem to taken up all my time... I am back though, please don't give up!
This was adapted from a recipe I found on Martha Stewart's website. It was originally for a apricot almond cobbler, but it's more of a upside down cobbler because the batter goes in the pan first. It's also very flexible and could be more than just apricot and almond depending on what's around and in season. I loved it because it is a rustic dessert that was very quick, satisfying but not too indulgent. This worked beautifully in my cast iron pan but could easily work in a pie plate or other baking dish as well. I used peaches and berries and did put in the amaretto but that could easily be substituted for another liquor (brandy?) or even citrus juice. I'm sure this would be good in the winter with pears or cranberries... definitely a keeper though!

Peach and Mixed Berry Upsided Down Cobbler (serves 6-8)

1 1/2 lbs fruit (could be one kind or a combination)
6 tbs sugar
1 tbs of lemon juice
Toss fruit and let sit while the batter is mixed.

1/2 almond meal toasted (or finely ground almonds or any other nut you wanted to substitute)
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour but all purpose flour could easily be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
6 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbs of amaretto (or any other liquor you wanted to substitute)

Pre heat your oven to 375. To mix the batter, start by greasing a 10" cast iron skillet with 2 tbs of butter. Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl and then in another whisk the egg, milk, liquor together then slowly stream in the remaining 4 tbs of butter while whisking vigourously. Combine the dry and wet ingredients together until just mixed and spread it into the the pan. Spread the fruit over the top. Bake in the oven until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs. Will take around 40-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan before serving. This easily is cut into wedges and is somewhere between a cobbler and a cake and would be great on a picnic.